We have mentioned before we don’t have much luck with multis when there are several (generally more than 3) waypoints.
So why then did we attempt “Poohsticks” a five mile, five stage multi ?
Well, it seemed a good idea at the time.
The cache description not only listed the waypoints (with co-ordinates derived from information signs found at the previous waypoint) but a helpful description of where you would be. There was a very high correlation between these location descriptions and our planned route. It really did seem silly not to attempt the multi.
The five mile route multi would take us from Day’s Lock (or more specifically Lower Wittenham Church) away from the Thames for about half-a-mile to count ‘openings’ in a pill-box and then continue on the Thames Path towards Shillingford. At Shillingford we would leave the Thames and ascend the Wittenham Clumps and drop back down to Wittenham Church.
So the first part of the day’s walk saw us collecting waypoint information, from pillboxes, gates, fishing signs, memorial signs and flood levels. These all went well. Indeed we were able to find some true caches on route. One called “BIKERZ – Shortest One Way” was part of a motorbiker’s caching ride. (Think ‘cache and dash’ for motorbikes, where the bikes can be pulled into a small off-road space, and the cache retrieved very quickly without losing sight of the bike.)
Another cache we found on our waypoint collection route was called “Wot’s in the Box”. No obvious boxes around, except a litter bin. A quick rustle yielded… a mouse running away ! So we looked for more boxes until we did find the cache. Interestingly the container was yards away from one the multi’s waypoints. We thought that there was a 1/10 mile exclusion zone between caches and waypoints – here it seemed to be 6 feet! Lucky for us!
As we enjoyed our lunch, and computed our final waypoint, little did we know that this was to be our last piece of good fortune of the day.
At Shillingford Bridge we were looking for some ‘licence’ information. We searched high and low. Was it the Shillingford Bridge Hotel’s alcohol licence ? (With all its guests looking at these 2 idiots wandering around the car park?) Was it a fishing licence sign ? We spent ages trying to find the licence sign, and we were getting crosser and crosser. We never did find the sign and so we had the disappointment of another failed multi cache. Why do we do this ? Caching is supposed to be fun, but multis seem to provoke such dis-harmony when they go wrong … it means caching isn’t fun!
We decided to press on, with the certain knowledge we wouldn’t find the final cache. Our disappointment was tempered by our ability to find other caches on our way back to the car. The first, hidden in an ivy stump. The next under a tree on a perilous slope, the third in a tree but loads of large stinging nettles to walk through first. Another, a simple find tucked behind a tree.
We arrived near the top of Wittenham Clumps to try to find “Open Season”. Two trees, the cache must be hidden in one of them. We couldn’t find it. Oh dear! But then we read the logs! A previous finder had commented that they were close to finding the “Poohsticks” multi-cache when they arrived at “Open Season”. Could we find “Poohsticks” without the full set of co-ordinates ?
We knew, from the Poohsticks cache description, that it was near to a memorial seat. All we had to do was find the seat and we’d be close…but where was it? At that moment a muggle-dog-walker came by. We enquired whether they knew of any nearby seats (we put on our best “Oscar-winning exhausted pose”) and we were directed to the memorial seat !! Fab!
A slurp of coffee, a review of what co-ordinates we knew, and a bit of educated guesswork and the cache would be ours. After all, its a large ammo can – it must be easy to spot, surely.
We wandered around the nearby woodland for over 30 minutes looking for this ammo can. We tried various possible numbers, we tried triangulation, we tried everything we could think of.. but we didn’t find the cache!
We were again dispirited. Our trek to car involved just one more cache .. fortunately one of the best caches we’d seen in a very long while. (No photo now, but it will be in our end of year selection) This last cache at least lifted our spirits, but we still had the annoyance of NOT BEING ABLE TO FIND MULTI-WAYPOINTED CACHES. Grr!
Thames Path statistics : Route length : 2.3 miles Total distance walked : 70.85 miles
Caches found : 7 Total caches found : 149
PS We contacted the multi-cache owner when we got home. He checked the waypoint stage a few days later and discovered the ‘licence sign’ missing. So it wasn’t us going mad! The waypoint has now been revised and based on a sign we did see. Too late for us of course, as our trip down the Thames will take us away from the Wittenham Clumps.